Scottish Field Whisky Challenge 2019 winners revealed

There were more treats than tricks at the Scottish Field Whisky Challenge Awards which took place on Friday aboard the luxurious Fingal, docked in Leith, Edinburgh.

Scottish Field announced the dram fine winners of our Whisky Challenge 2019 and the results are spookily sweet this Halloween.

The much anticipated Scottish Field Whisky of the Year 2019 is GlenDronach Aged 12 Years.

This much-loved whisky also won the Under £50 category Gold award and as one of the reigning champions it was entered into this year’s Challenge. It’s a spectacular win for GlenDronach because this whisky has beaten off competition from much pricier whiskies.

This bottle was the winner of the Gold Award in the Under £50 category in 2018 and as a reigning champion it re-entered this year’s Challenge, only to be crowned overall winner.

In the words of our judge Douglas Wood, the GlenDronach 12-Year-Old is a ‘banana, rum, coconut split delight. Just a beautiful style of dram to enjoy.’

Our ten expert judges named the GlenDronach 12-Year-Old as the highest scoring whisky of all the 59 whiskies sampled at the Grand Final which took place on 20 September.

‘Like opening a box of Milk Tray’ wrote one judge of the Glenfarclas 2008 Distillery Exclusive, Gold winner of the £50-£100 category. ‘Sweet, sugary, boiled sweets, raspberry ripple ice
cream,’ wrote Gillian Kirkland of the GlenAllachie 25 which took the silver award in the Over £100 category. From maple syrup flapjacks to Turkish delight, nearly all the winning whiskies this year reminded our expert judges of the best of kinds of sweet desserts.

The results are published in our Whisky Supplement which accompanies the December issue of Scottish Field, published on 4 November.

The full list of winners are:

Under £50 category:

Gold, GlenDronach Aged 12 Years – GlenDronach £39.99. Douglas Wood: ‘Banana, rum, coconut split delight. Just a beautiful style of dram to enjoy.’

Silver, Springbank 10 Year Old Single Malt – Springbank Distillers Ltd £42. Darren Leitch: ‘Aromas of spiced apple, figs, digestive biscuits. With time it turns to fresh cut grass and yellow grape, lemon sherbets and grappa.’

There was no Bronze winner for the Under £50 category because only two whiskies in this category were selected by the judges to go through to the second scoring round.

£50-£100 category:

Gold, Glenfarclas 2008 Distillery Exclusive – J & G Grant, Glenfarclas Distillery £99.95. Darren Leitch: ‘Chocolate aromas initially, like opening a box of Milk Tray, there are some dry spices, some treacle and a touch of sweet rolling tobacco. This has punch to it.’

Silver, GlenDronach 15 Years – Brown Forman, GlenDronach £ 56
Mark Angus: ‘Sweet popcorn with extra sugar, ripe pears, soft creamy finish, hint of peach.’

Bronze, Gordon & MacPhail Spiritual Home Exclusive Glen Grant – Gordon & MacPhail £93.25. Blair Bowman: ‘Maple syrup flapjacks, walnuts and pecan nuts. Nutty and sweet finish, very long.’

Over £100 category

Gold, Highland Park The Dark – Highland Park £190. Vince Fusaro: ‘Rose petal and a hint of crushed strawberry. Coppery gold light.’

Silver, GlenAllachie 25 – GlenAllachie £240. Gillian Kirkland: ‘Sweet, sugary boiled sweets, raspberry ripple ice cream.’

Bronze, Glenfiddich 30 Year Old – William Grant & Sons, Glenfiddich Distillery £500. Blair Bowman: ‘Fragrant, fresh, real Turkish delight, rose water with a sweet and floral finish.’

Scottish Field Blend of the Year 2019 – Rare Find – Gleann Mor Spirits £60

Scottish Field Readers’ Panel 2019 Overall Winner: Rare Find – Gleann Mor Spirits £60

Scottish Field Independent Bottling of the Year 2019: Gordon & Macphail Spiritual Home Exclusive Glen Grant – Gordon and McPhail £93.25.

Scottish Field Distillery Bottling of the Year 2019: GlenDronach Aged 12 Years – Brown Forman, GlenDronach £39.99/

Scottish Field Whisky of the Year 2019: GlenDronach Aged 12 Years – Brown Forman, GlenDronach £39.99/

Scottish Field Summer Challenge 2019 Overall Winner: Glenfarclas 2008 Distillery Exclusive – Glenfarclas Distillery

Whisky Bar of the Year 2019:
Gold, Dornoch Castle Hotel; silver, Usquabae; bronze, The Century Bar, Gleneagles

Distillery Visitor Centre of the Year 2019: Gold, Clydeside Distillery; silver, Glenfiddich Distillery; bronze, Lochranza Distillery.

Scottish Field Judge of the Year 2019: Darren Leitch. Darren has been a Judge for the Scottish Field Whisky Challenge since 2001 and he is an integral part of the team. This award is awarded to the Judge whose nominated whiskies scored the highest in our Grand Final. Almost all of the whiskies Darren nominated this year have won an award.

We open the competition to all the whisky distilleries in Scotland, inviting them to send in any new expressions or old favourites to take part in the Challenge.

Then we find 10 Scottish Field readers who know their drams to form an incomparable panel of whisky knowledge. We decant the bottles into sample bottles with only a number.

On the day of the Challenge, our ten readers assemble at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Leith for a day of blind tasting. This year’s Challenge included bottles that retail for between £15 and £550. But without the ceremony of opening the fancy box, there was no telling which was which.

The first round is a knock-out round and our panel whittled the list of 54 whiskies down to 25.

The top 25 were taken forward for the scoring round in the afternoon. Each whisky was tasted for nose, palate and finish and given a decimal score out of 5. We then took away the highest and lowest scores and used the remaining marks to produce an overall score for each expression.